PA: What is your mission statement?
Dan Peluse: We work to improve the lives of our clients and their participants through the implementation and use of thoughtful retirement benefit programs. While helping them navigate the ever-changing retirement landscape, we hope to achieve effective and efficient plan management to support our clients with their duties as plan sponsors and fiduciaries. Through this process, we strive to create a path that helps plan participants achieve the ultimate goal of a sustainable and comfortable retirement.
PA: What have you done in the past year to improve participants’ retirement readiness?
DP: “Retirement ready” plan participants, from my perspective, are those who are on track to replace 80% of their income. We incorporate their existing retirement savings, including current plan assets, outside assets and Social Security, their current savings rate and asset allocation. Along with our plan sponsor clients, we work to identify those individuals who are on track and those who may not be on target to meet their monthly retirement income needs. Annually, we review this data at a plan and participant level to help guide our plan design, communication and education initiatives.
In order to improve the likelihood of producing this outcome, we have continued to:
- Promote and utilize automatic plan features—automatic enrollment,
automatic escalation, etc.;
- Meet individually with participants to assist in establishing appropriate retirement savings rates and asset allocation;
- Perform individual participant retirement income projections and identify retirement spending needs, including health care costs; and
- Produce targeted communication materials.
PA: As a retirement plan adviser, what do you take the most pride in?
DP: Helping plan participants reach their retirement goals and enabling them to sustain a comfortable retirement is the most gratifying part of being a retirement plan adviser. Receiving the phone call or email from a participant stating that he “will be retiring soon” means that, along with our plan sponsor clients, we have done our job and created a meaningful and valuable benefit.
PA: What benchmarks do you use to measure plan and client success? How do you react to clients or prospects who don’t share your goals for their retirement plan?
DP: We adopt the 90–10–90 rule as a benchmark along with our clients. We strive to attain 90% participation, 10% average deferral/savings rates and 90% utilization of asset-allocation investment options. We believe that reaching each of these goals greatly increases the chances of replacing 80% of a participant’s current income and in turn creates a successful retirement plan that our clients can use as a benefit that is valuable in retaining and attracting talented employees.
Understanding that these goals may not be attainable for all companies or organizations, we work with them to set more appropriate goals that best meet the needs of their organization and employee base when necessary. While some of our most successful client relationships are those where the client shares our goals and objectives, our definition of success can be modified in order to produce measurable results for all clients and prospects.
PA: What are the most important issues your plan sponsors face with their company retirement plan, and what specific actions do you take to assist them in overcoming those issues?
DP: As the retirement plan landscape continues to change, our clients are challenged to maintain fiduciary best practices, make sense of a dynamic legislative environment, determine reasonableness of plan fees, and identify whether or not new plan features and investment options are appropriate for their plan participants. Understanding that maintaining a successful retirement plan cannot be a full-time job for most of our clients, I want them to feel comfortable relying on us as their retirement plan adviser to support with any or all of these tasks.
BUSINESS AT A GLANCE
PLAN ASSETS UNDER ADVISEMENT: $895 million
MEDIAN PLAN SIZE (IN ASSETS): $8.5 million
TOTAL PLANS UNDER ADVISEMENT: 146
TOTAL PARTICIPANTS IN PLANS SERVED: 18,750